Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore

I recently completed taking another Aprons cooking class at my local Publix supermarket - this time, it was the "Intermediate" course that follows the "Basics" one I attended last Spring. Although some of the recipes were repeated in this go-round (for example, handmade pasta and pizza dough), I was able to collect a few new ones for the Canteen, one of which (Chicken Cacciatore) has already been tried out for family consumption. My mom used to make a version of this during my childhood (her recipe came from my paternal grandmother) that featured olives in place of the mushrooms listed below. Since I'm not a fan of either olives or mushrooms, I omitted these two ingredients and threw in some capers instead. In place of jar tomato sauce, I was able to use leftover homemade sauce I'd had in the freezer since I made lasagna a few weeks back. The final result wasn't bad, hearty if not a bit heavy from all of the chicken fat that remains in the pot during the braise. If I were to do this again, I'd probably wait for one of our infrequent cool and dreary Florida winter days as the next occasion.

12 pieces of mixed white and dark meat chicken (since my cooking vessel was small, I used 4 thighs and 4 legs)
2 oz. olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and julienned
1 red onion, peeled and julienned
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1/2 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
1 c. red wine
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. fresh basil, picked from stem and torn
1 lb. penne pasta
Kosher salt and black pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan or Dutch oven with a small amount of oil over medium-high heat until oil begins to smoke. Place chicken in pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. Add peppers, onions, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until vegetables soften slightly. Add red wine, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until liquid reduces by half. Add tomato sauce/dried herbs and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and lowering heat as needed to prevent burning.

While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain well and place on a serving platter. Remove chicken from pan, stir in fresh basil, and evenly distribute over pasta. Pour sauce from pot over chicken pieces and pasta.

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